NY Governor Cuomo Reaffirms Commitment to Marijuana Decriminalization

In his State of the State address, delivered this morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reaffirmed his commitment to reforming his state’s marijuana laws. The governor proposed decriminalizing the possession of 15 grams of marijuana in public view to a civil violation. Currently only possession of marijuana in private is decriminalized, possession in public view is still currently a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $250 with a maximum sentence of 90 days.

“These arrests stigmatize, they criminalize, they create a permanent record. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it must end and it must end now,” Governor Cuomo stated.

Last year, the Governor declared his support for a similar proposal, but was unable to gather significant support in the state legislature by the end of the year. NORML applauds Governor Cuomo’s commitment to the issue and we were glad to see him putting the topic front and center in a prominent speech.

You can view Governor Cuomo’s speech on C-SPAN here.

59 thoughts

  1. *Yawn*

    Wake me when he comes out in support of a MMJ program in NY, or better yet a legalization measure.

    That will ensure me a nice long slumber, until he is out of office.

  2. Well, NY has a “turn out your pockets” law, so if someone has marijuana in their pocket, then they could be arrested for having it out in public. The two laws do not go together. The “turn our your pockets” law needs to go. It’s a heinous violation of personal rights. I am encouraged that the national dialogue on prohibition has turned serious. The dominoes are going to continue to fall.

    [Paul Armentano responds: The measure Gov. Cuomo is proposing is meant to reform this specific practice.]

  3. 🙁 I don’t know why everyone so far seems unimpressed or even disappointed. I’m optimistic about this, this is a lot better than a lot of places and a great step in the right direction, as well as brave for the Governor to come out about! I am for one very pleased that he not only affirmed it, but reaffirmed. 😀

  4. Wow this is all so great. How about Idaho? I helped circulate a MMJ petition for Compassionate Idaho last year, but it failed not enough signatures. Activists in Boise have plans for another one in 2014 and I will get in touch with them. Marijuana legalization all the way. And please you guys at Norml do the talking. I have a very rude employer to deal with right now, and would like nothing more then justice!

  5. Decriminalization is not Legalization. I find this kind of attempt to be the worst kind of action. He is saying he knows your sick of it but how bout we just punish you a little less…

  6. Saying Marijuana is not dangerous is not an example of “bravery”. Running into a burning building to save someone trapped inside is “bravery”.

    Twenty years ago, it could have been considered “brave” for a policatian to take this position, now it is just too little too late. A whole generation has gone by while this corruption has stayed in place.

  7. Are they going to expunge all the wrongful convictions? If not, it is just too little too late and the problems already in place not being dealt with.

    “These arrests stigmatize, they criminalize, they create a permanent record. It’s not fair, it’s not right, it must end and it must end now,” Governor Cuomo stated.

    Well Cuomo, start issuing the pardons!

  8. Hey Governor Cuomo,

    That’s not good enough. Be a man. Be brave. Start talking about writing a bill to completely legalize marijuana in the great state of NY.

  9. I love how these issues are being treated and not ignored. I know norml just wants for people to be able to live normally and be treated equally and im with you guys as hard as can. Its difficult the main issue with cannabis and how to go about it but the vision is never gone…

  10. at least he’s doing something.
    though admittedly it would be much braver of him to call out Bloomberg and Ray Kelley on the (literally) millions of (kinda illegal) arrests that resulted from exploiting the loophole that makes what would be a civil citation into a misdemeanor (“turn out your pockets” which makes the weed out in “public view”, an arrestable offense which puts hundreds of thousands of ppl into the NYPD database with mug shots and fingerprints)

  11. I had to go to court for a UPM(Unlawful Possession of Marijuana) and was surprised to find that 75% of the people were there for the exact same thing. I do believe this constitutes a problem.

  12. For the Gov. of a state as large as New York to bring marijuana into the conversation in a light which is not negative, is a step in the right direction. Things sometimes have a snails-pace, but we all know that old adage already, don’t we?

  13. To Dave,

    You’re right on. To get the ball rolling on his statement, Cuomo should issue a pardon to everyond convicted of a marijuana charge, past and future until its legalized. This will illustrate his commitment to his statement. I wonder if a governor can issue a mass pardon?

    Its also my belief that when legalized, everyone ever convicted of a marijuana charge, no matter what kind or how many, should be pardoned.

  14. N.Y. Assembly passes medical marijuana bill!


    Dear Supporter:

    Great news! Last night, the New York State Assembly overwhelmingly approved Assemblyman Richard Gottfried’s medical marijuana bill, AB 7347B, in a 90-50 vote.

    Assemblyman Gottfried’s bill would allow registered patients with “severe debilitating or life-threatening conditions” to obtain marijuana from registered organizations for their medical use.

    Unfortunately, the Senate bill has not yet received a committee vote this year, and there are only six days left until the legislature adjourns. Please take a moment to ask your senator to support this sensible and compassionate proposal.

    New York is increasingly an outlier in the region. New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maine all have medical marijuana programs, as does Canada. Please ask your senator to listen to voters, and to support the Senate companion, SB 7283, which is sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino.

    Thanks for all you do for sensible marijuana policies!


    Karen O’Keefe’s signature

    Karen O’Keefe
    Director of State Policies
    Marijuana Policy Project

  15. Unknown to myself in full, NY State “decriminalized” cannabis possession – in “private” in the 1970’s. I grew up in NY, but would never move back there… I was busted for possessing a pipe used to smoke cannabis in a routine stop – the pipe was not in public view, only I was unaware that was the law, and now live 25+ years later with a “drug conviction”, albeit cannabis, but I might just as well be a felon.

    NY State is by far not the worst offender of an individuals right to use and possess a plant, but it is not a model state either.

    It’s time all states say NO to cannabis as a crime! I give Governor Cuomo kudos for the courage to address the subject, but fail to see anything new to stopping the hurt laws directed at cannabis cause. His is simply a pacification for would be “criminals” who are not criminals, but rather, victims of an unjust, dangerous mindset.

  16. being able to carry around a 1/2 oz (15 grams) legally in public view – seems very reasonable, and yes he should get bloomberg to support this effort. then push to get records expunged should be a pro bono effort by a norml member laywer

  17. I’m grateful it’s out in the open and being discussed, however it should have been started in the 1960’s. This would have saved a lot money and peoples records and more space in prisons. This should be treated like alcohol / tobacco.

  18. This bit where someone is forced to empty their pockets, then cited for having pot in plain view strikes me as blatant entrapment.

  19. I give a proper salute any and all of America’s leaders who support ending the War On Drugs; particularly marijuana! This includes those who were previously prohibitionists who have finally realized how wrong they were. Our leaders need to make decisions that reflect our free society and reject laws that do more harm than good. Gov. Cuomo is on the right path and he gets my salute!

    I am not ready to salute President Obama just yet but it is still very possible that he will get it 🙂 I thank the Gods that Mitt Romney didn’t win the presidency! For people like him and Melinda Haag, I offer up an improper salute (middle finger only). They are examples of people who do not have the best intentions for our country or for our liberty.

  20. I decided to offer up 2 more well deserved middle finger salutes to… Wait for it…

    Former Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy and, maybe you guessed it… Kevin Sabet. These guys are clearly the enemies of peaceful freedom loving Americans!

    Seriously – Gov. Cuomo is a saint in comparison!

  21. Cuomo is one of those names you hear as a Presidential candidate. He may be positioning himself for a run in 2016. If so, this is good news for NORML fans – a pro-marijuana stance seen as a political plus.

    We like to think professional politicians are dumb, but really only the pundits at FOX news were surprised Romney lost. When Cristi walked Sandy-clobbered New Jersey with Obama, he knew it had no effect on Romney’s chances. So he did what we used to expect a President and a Governor to do in such catastrophic circumstances – come together and deal with the problem. After the last 4 years of rancorous acrimony, the sight of those two guys walking together for a constructive purpose was as refreshing as a bowl of AK-47 and far more patriotic than the red, white, and blue always littering both national political conventions.

  22. Be thankful you do not live in AZ and have Jan Brewer, J. McCain, and J. Arprillo breathing down your neck and perpetuating their lies. But, I still feel you as I live in CO and am still incensed by the antimarijuana scum spreading lies. (K. Sabet)
    Yet, both Cuomo and Bloomberg are on the right track and better yet, unafraid to speak out and organize. The momentum is on our side.

  23. I also see promise in the Booker/Christie combo of Mayor/Gov. who within the same week came out and declared the war on drugs to be a failure. Ironic that here in CO Hickenlooper and Hancock both came out against A64, defying the endorsement by the CO democratic party of A64. My point is, for a politician to support vocally decriminalization, you should be elated, as many do support decriminalization and legalization, but only behind closed doors. We need more Cuomo/Bloomberg and Christie/Booker combos in our states and less Hancock/hickenlooper hypocrites (both with public ties to alcohol)
    Because here in CO, inspite of Hickencocks attempt to lie and spoil A64, it still passed, so again, be thankful for politicians who actually speak out against prohibition, if only in part, Versus the lying scumbag governors and mayors in a great majority of the rest of our states.

  24. NY is so far behind with Marijuana laws, Gov. Cuomo needs to start somewhere. I would like to see more but NY is one of those states that Republican Senators still snub Marijuana. I agree he should be pushing for medical use as a minimum but weed is so easy to get in NY it’s not really an issue.

  25. “Decriminalized” does not go far enough . The bottom line is you will still be punished for using a substance far less harmful then the drug ( alcohol ) & presription medication he takes .

  26. I get this nauseating feeling anytime public officials who we elected start talking as if something will be done about this stupid non-problem. There’s no optimism or feeling that things will change. Public officials are just now growing the balls (or ovaries) to pass worthless decriminalization policy. Firstly, it’s not a crime, never was, never will be. Second, everyone who uses, grows, endorses cannabis is on the HIGHER MORAL GROUND.

    Only in oppressive, dictatorial, fail countries are non-crimes punished as severely as real crimes like rape, assault, theft, lying with fake promises during campaigns to get elected.

    Nixon resigned in shame to cover-up even worse crimes he committed while in office. Nixon is usually publicly ridiculed as a corrupt degenerate lacking any decorum, saying “you won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore,” the most pathetically embarrassing concession speech by a campaign loser in American history.

    But there are so many who love his Controlled Substances Act. This was a guy who called Daniel Elsberg “the most dangerous man in America” for revealing Pentagon papers that detailed the “plan” in Vietnam, where they had soldiers *march aimlessly in circles,* as targets to be shot at, while genocidal carpet bombing and use of napalm and agent orange took place all around them…against poor rice farmers.

    The drug war could only be invented by scumbags like these degenerates

    Don’t ever believe that “illegal” means just.

  27. thats a good thing its as simple as this if you are not for cannabis what drug is better? there is none so again if you are anti cannabis you you promote the killing of peoples liver a bunch of other health problems that come with pills there is nothing good that comes from pills what so ever and its to bad its a shame we have to see peoples including childrens lifes wasted away on other drugs weather its a illness or injury but hey thats the FDA and the DEA for ya and it sickins me to know billions of lifes since the 30s could have been saved since it became illgal

  28. You think your upset. I got thrown in jail for half a gram and then tested dirty and was immediately sent to jail for 30 days. Im 54 and first time in trouble. I just moved from Boulder, CO 5 years ago. Texas is constipated and I am doomed.

  29. @ Witchofthewilds,

    There always seems to be so much negativity on these threads. It’s almost like some of them are hoping to be proven right. I recall the negative comments just prior to this last election when some posters were SURE the federal govt wouldn’t “allow” Colorado and Washington to legalize.

    Of course, instead of admitting that they were wrong, these same posters simply switched their negativity to other areas.

    Somehow, I have a feeling that even if MJ were completely legalized in all 50, these posters would still have some reason to feel “suspicious” about the legalization. “A nefarious plot to keep us all stoned while they take away all the rest of our rights” etc etc etc.

    Too much. Instead of being grateful and celebrating the FACT that the tide is indeed turning, they’re hell-bent on searching for something to complain about (usually having to do with the “evil” federal govt, of course).

  30. Coumo’s position though laudable for its promotion of the contestability of the law as it is applied still represents nothing more than a kinder gentler prohibition that will see a shrinking of the net size and a exacerbation of the harms. The right to possess is a barren right without the [R18] right to cultivate, to exchange and to store. Anything else is a policy bent on failure….

  31. Change takes time. We may not like that it takes time but changes introduced too quickly only meet with resistance. Say and think what you will, but Cuomo and other leaders who are taking any steps, big or small, toward decrimilization and/or legalization are to be applauded and should even be encouraged by us.

  32. Yes, at least he’s doing something. If only he could get his neighbor, Governor Tom Corbett, in Pennsylvania to make some progress, a block of states would be developing in the region.

    I saw the Brookings Institute about marijuana legalization from Tuesday on C-SPAN. The panel was Jonathan Rauch, Angela Hawkins, Michael Greve, and Troy Eid. Steve Fox of MPP had to set Troy straight that people with criminal pasts were now operating legally in Colorado. Troy has the quintessential prohibitionist arguments. Troy did, however, suggest that whatever the feds to that they’d have to have some kind of opt-out for states that don’t want legal cannabis like with the opt-out with alcohol since Alcohol Prohibition. He wants medical marijuana to go through the FDA clinical trials process, however I disagree with that for the plant, and agree with it only for pharmaceutical from the plant or synthetically produced. The plant itself must be removed from the federal Schedule. I encourage states to remove the plant from their Schedules altogether, too.

    Angela Hawkins pointed out that the feds wasted their opportunity to do any reform, and a guilty of creating the situation whereby the states are experimenting with different forms of ignoring the federal prohibition.

    One of the panelists mentioned the courts will decide the matter, however I beg to differ. The cannabis community has long ignored the federal prohibition and court decisions that prop it up, and the American public will continue to ignore the feds, the international prohibition. The audience members from India and Latin America were right to point out that the international treaty is used by the U.S. to impose its will on the rest of the world as the world’s policeman, yet the U.S. ignores what it wants with impunity–American exceptionalism.

    Angela Hawkins pointed out that in Colorado personal cultivation, etc. is legal, and it will be a hell of a lot harder for the feds to crack down because they won’t be able simply to identify the business and send a letter to the owners to cease and desist or send a letter of asset forfeiture to the landlord.

    If California, Oregon and Hawaii would be quick to adopt Colorado-style legalization, the feds would be clearly too overwhelmed. It would hasten reform at the federal level.

    Prolonging cannabis prohibition simply wastes more money. Prohibitionists often admit that they think marijuana will be legal not this decade but the next decade, Dr. G. Terry Madonna mentioned it for example for Pennsylvania, which means that prohibitionists are planning on wasting millions of dollars in the years in between on what they know is clearly a failure.

    Come on California, Oregon and Hawaii!

  33. I applaud Cuomo on his stance on recanting New York States archaic weed laws….But too bad he can’t get it right when it comes to firearms.

  34. There is no MAGIC PILL, but, cannabis hemp sativa indica ruderalus is the closest thing I’ve discovered. and it’s not made from petroleum products as most drugs are.

  35. Marijuana, a made up name to discredit the medicine such as tinctures of cannabis, popular before Harry Anslinger came on the scene.

  36. this attempt to rectify the problem is a small band aid approach at best. big deal it’s a civil offense that will still cost you a couple of hundred bucks !!!

  37. Why can’t someone sue the gov. to get marijuana taken off the top of the list and be at least classified lower on the list of worst drugs

  38. @ Evening Bud, Your exactly right, don’t think law enforcement, prohibitionist, and Republicans don’t read and post on every single thread, every single day.

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